News / Africa

Somalia's Assembly to Debate Controversial Constitution

Somalia's President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed (R) and Speaker of the Parliament Sharif Hassan Sheikh Adan attend the National Constituent Assembly meeting in the capital Mogadishu, July 25, 2012.
Somalia's President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed (R) and Speaker of the Parliament Sharif Hassan Sheikh Adan attend the National Constituent Assembly meeting in the capital Mogadishu, July 25, 2012.
NAIROBI, Kenya — After months of wrangling and postponement in Somalia, an 825-member constituent assembly will have the final word on the country's new constitution. Despite some objections, representatives believe the constitution ultimately will be approved.

Assembly representatives will have a chance for debate and to add their recommendations before voting "yes" or "no" on whether to adopt the new constitution.

The assembly, which brings together Somali community leaders from the various clans, sub-clans and the diaspora, is part of the process for ending an eight-year political transition and forming a new government.

One member, Ali Abdirahman Ahmed, an elder from the Digil and Mirifle clan, told VOA his clan instructed its representatives to pass the constitution. He said that doing so will help bring an end to the suffering of the Somali people in and out the country.

Making a successful transition

Ahmed said the reason his clan's representatives were told to vote for the adoption of the constitution is because their daughters are giving birth under trees, their sons are dying in the oceans. He said that if you go to every prison in the five continents you find our sons and daughters are languishing in those prisons. He said his nation must find ways to finish this transition so that they can have some sort of accountability in the next government.

The constituent assembly has been postponed several times. It was held up most recently by clan elders who expressed concerns about certain clauses in the constitution and insisted on making changes before it passed.

Mohamed Hassan Haad, the chairman of the Hawiye clan elders, refused to attend the assembly as an observer, and cast doubt on the legitimacy of the process.

"Whatever they are going to work on," Haad said, "there are people who have already worked on that [constitution] and they will be instructed what to do and what to say, and those are some of the things that made us walk out of the meeting hall. They are working under the terms of some politicians who want a position in the government. In such a situation we could not represent our people when such things are taking place."

In previous interviews with VOA, Haad has said his strongest objections are that the constitution grants too many rights for women to run for high office, and that it does not specify what city will be Somalia's capital.

Assembly member Ibrahim Salah, from the Gedo region, said that although the draft is not perfect, members of the assembly are being given a chance to suggest changes.

He said if you look at the draft constitution, since it is written by a human being, certain things can be wrong and others right; it is a not holy book. But when checked, the mistakes are minimal, and changes can be made, he said.

Attempt toward progress

The United Nations helped to draft the constitution and is supporting Somalia's political process.

U.N. Special Representative for Somalia Augustine Mahiga told the constituent assembly that the new constitution recognizes the fundamental importance of Somalia as an Islamic state, blended with modern 21st century society.

He called the constituent assembly the first step toward completing a political transition and forming a new government by August 20.

Somalia has been without a stable central government, and has endured two decades of war and lawlessness, since the ouster of former president Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Jay from: USA
July 27, 2012 12:10 PM
I think it is true that Somalia had tough 20 years of civl war, which many organized criminals including extremists have took advantage of. That does not mean the whole nation of Somalia represents a terrorist nation, it is just uneducated and ignorent to say so and label many peace loving Somalis like that. As a Somali patriot, I would love to say " We will overcome and with the help of our EAC brothers (AMISOM), Somalia will rise again from the civil war ruins. Thanks to the International Community's commitment and support. This National Constitution Assembly (NCA) is the first baby step, most Somali intellectuals will agree that it is about a time for us (Somalis) to move forward with a federal constitution, which has its checks and balances of power for the sake of the common good pf the country. It is going to happen, and any current disagreements will be sorted out by the upcomming Members of the Parliment (MPs). Somalia will surely , but slowly get out of the woods.

by: Ahmed from: Norway
July 27, 2012 7:40 AM

A bad constitution is better then no constitution. This document will help the country achieve muchly needed milestone. People that critises the document are either, against universal rights of women or they want a greater influence for their clans and constituencies

by: James Deng Dimo from: Wau South Sudan
July 27, 2012 4:24 AM
James Deng Dimo from Wau South Sudan
It sound fantastic that Somalia is turning to a shadow point of federal government system that determine the opposition of other clans in Somalia but question is will they distinguished their country image from being a terrorist nation?
Introducing a new government system in Somalia will change Somalia from terrorism.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs